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April 25, 2024

Discover Spinalonga Island: History & Trips

Spinalonga Island, located in the Gulf of Elounda in northeastern Crete, is a fascinating place with a rich history. Let’s dive into it.

spinalonga island crete

The official name of the islet is actually Kalydon, but it is commonly known as Spinalonga. It is situated on the north shore, along the Spinalonga peninsula, north of the main town of Agios Nikolaos.

The island’s history

Originally fortified by the Venetians in the 16th century, Spinalonga served as a defensive outpost. Its strategic location allowed it to control access to the Gulf of Elounda. From 1903 to 1957, Spinalonga was used as a leper colony. The last inhabitant, a priest, left the island in 1962. The abandoned leper colony and the fortress are significant historical features.

How to go to Spinalonga

Visitors can take boat tours from nearby towns such as Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, or Plaka. The short boat ride offers scenic views of the island and the surrounding coastline.

Is Spinalonga worth a visit?

A trip to Spinalonga is definitely worth doing, whether it is for historical purposes or for the view you have from the island. Spinalonga is close to the coast, making the boat crossing short and comfortable.

If you have read the novel “The Island” by Victoria Hislop, a visit to the island is definitely a must! Based on facts and true stories, the story increased interest in Spinalonga. Although fictional, it adds to the charm of the island.

Below a few things to see on Spinalonga:

  • Fortifications: Once on the island, explore the well-preserved Venetian and Ottoman fortifications. You can walk around the entire islet in a relatively short time.
  • Museum and History: Learn about the island’s history through the museum exhibits. Discover its past under Venetian and Ottoman rule, as well as its role as a leper colony.
  • Abandoned Village: Explore the remnants of the village where lepers lived. It’s a poignant reminder of the island’s past.

Exploring an abandoned leper colony on a small island is a unique experience. The island’s rugged landscape and crystal-clear waters add to its charm. 

In summary, Spinalonga Island is a captivating blend of history, natural beauty, and human resilience.


Discover Spinalonga island and its history!

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Category: Travel Blog
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